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Engineers, take 2

Engineer Tinkering

Not everyone has an engineer in his or her life, but those of us who do must admit that the way engineers look at life is amazing and amusing to the rest of us. Several things in life lately have reminded me of this, and so I thought I would post some engineer humor that has accumulated in my files. Engineers are among the most revered professionals in France, and so it is fitting that the first joke about engineers go way back in French history.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the midst of the French Revolution, the revolting citizens led an physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer to the guillotine where they were sentenced to die. As the physicist is led to the guillotine, he decides that he'd like to observe the blade as it falls, perhaps to verify, and requests to be strapped in face up. The executioner agrees (why not? it all pays the same...), and straps him in as requested. As the blade falls, it sticks about two thirds of the way down. Seeing this, the crowd cheers — the physicist must be innocent! So the executioner unstraps him and sets him free.

The mathematician is next. Being well versed in all matters statistical (perhaps he is an actuary), he quickly asks to be placed face up as well — after all, the odds of its happening again are pretty good, especially if the initial conditions are similar. So the executioner obliges, and once again, the blade sticks about two thirds of the way down. Again the crowd cheers, and the mathematician is also set free.

Finally, the engineer. Not willing to do anything in public that is different from his peers, he also requests to be placed face up. As the executioner is strapping him in, the engineer is looking up at the blade and studying the track in which it slides. As he does so, he notices something. "Do you see that?" he asks. "About one third of the way up? If you fixed that...."


A very loud Texan Engineer was visiting Australia and talking big about all of the large civil works in the USA that he was involved in. To be polite his Australian counterpart took him on a tour of some of Sydney's larger constructions.

First he took him to Gladesville Bridge. The Texan exclaimed, "What's that!" In reply the Australian said, "That's the Gladesville Bridge."

"Hmmph" said the Texan, "How long and how many men did it take to build?" The Australian replied, "About 5 years with 1000 men."

The Texan replied, "Well in Texas we would've done it in 2 years with 500 men."

Next they went to the Sydney Opera House. "What's that" said the Texan. "That's the Sydney Opera House" was the reply.

"Hmmph" said the Texan, "How long and how many men did it take to build?"

The Australian replied, "About 10 years with 200 men".

The Texan replied "Well in Texas we would've done it in 4 years with 100 men."

By this stage the Australian was a little put out by the Texan's attitude so he decided to get some revenge, they walked around the Sydney Opera House and as they did the Sydney Harbor Bridge came into view.

Immediately the Texan exclaimed, "Wow! What's that?"

The Australian Engineer replied, "I don't know, it wasn't there yesterday."


Chocolate Chip Cookies ... An Engineer's Recipe

1.) 532.35 cm3 gluten
2.) 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3.) 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4.) 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5.) 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6.) 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7.) 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8.) Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9.) 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10.) 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous. To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extruder attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to thermal equilibrium.


NASA was interviewing professionals to be sent to Mars. Only one could go and couldn't return to Earth. The first applicant, an engineer, was asked how much he wanted to be paid for going. "A million dollars," he answered, "because I want to donate it to M.I.T."

The next applicant, a doctor, was asked the same question. He asked for $2 million. "I want to give a million to my family," he explained, "and leave the other million for the advancement of medical research."

The last applicant was a lawyer. When asked how much money he wanted, he whispered in the interviewer's ear, "Three million dollars." "Why so much!?" asked the interviewer. The lawyer replied, "If you give me $3 million, I'll give you $1 million, I'll keep $1 million, and with the third million we'll pay to send the engineer to Mars."


Two Minnesota engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole looking up. A woman walks by and asks what they were doing.

"Ve're supposed to find da height of dis flagpole," said Sven, "but ve don't haff a ladder."

The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple bolts, and laid the pole down on the ground.

Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced "Twenty one feet, six inches" and walked away.

Ole shook his head and laughed. "Ain't dat just like a voman! Ve ask fer da height and she giffes us da length!"

Rumor has it that Sven and Ole have since quit their engineering jobs and are currently serving in the United States Senate, but I have no way of verifying that.


If you'd like more humor about engineers, check out my other posts on engineers.

On her blog Becka has done two more installments of our "western adventure." They are called Our trip to Arizona, part two and Our last day out west.


"We show our love for others by doing what is best for them." — Steve Pettit


The optimist sees a glass that is half full. The pessimist sees a glass that is half empty. The engineer sees a glass that is twice as big as it needs to be.

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6 Comments on “Engineers, take 2”

  1. #1 David McGuire
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    And while the optimist and the pessimist were discussing the status of the glass, the pragmatist came along and drank the whole thing. 🙂

  2. #2 Doug
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I just clicked on your link to other posts about engineers and read the joke about whether Noah could build the Ark today. It sounded almost exactly like the difficulties Answers in Genesis has been facing in getting the Ark Encounter built, from permit delays to church-state complaints. you might have to move that from the “joke” category to “current events.”

  3. #3 Rob
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Ha! Love it, David!

  4. #4 Rob
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    The humor is very much tongue in cheek.

  5. #5 Sharon Belknap
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Both my granddads are engineers. I get a lot of my “tinkering” mentality from them and both of them taught me a lot. I’ve always enjoyed working on projects with them and learning new skills.

    What I’ve learned from them is : An engineer knows when something will work and when it will not work. The next step when it doesn’t work is to figure out if there is a way to change it so it will work, or if it is the wisest thing to just leave it alone. If an engineer tells you it won’t work and to leave it alone, you can guarantee that if you start messing with it, you’ll end up with major problems. 😀

  6. #6 Rob
    on Sep 19th, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Good life lessons, Sharon! 🙂